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Morning vs. Night: When to Use Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid

Morning vs. Night: When to Use Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid

niacinamide and salicylic acid

Niacinamide and salicylic acid are two skincare powerhouses. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, works to even skin tone, minimize pores, and strengthen the skin barrier. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that helps unclog pores and eliminate acne.


Figuring out when to use each ingredient can be confusing. While they are both fantastic for oily and acne-prone skin and work well together, using them at the wrong time can irritate skin or make one or both less effective. Here’s what you need to know about niacinamide, salicylic acid and the best time of day to fit them into your routine.


Niacinamide in the Morning


Niacinamide is best used during the morning. Chemically speaking, niacinamide works better and is more stable at higher pH levels, which your skin has in the morning due to overnight regeneration. Morning is a good time to replenish your skin and provide important nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy.


Must Read – Benefits of Niacinamide

Benefits of Using Niacinamide in the AM:


– Helps control oil production and minimize pores

– Evens skin tone and improves texture

– Strengthens skin barrier function for a healthier and more resilient complexion

– Reduces inflammation and redness


When combined with SPF in the morning, niacinamide provides exceptional protection against UV damage that can cause premature aging. By bolstering your skin barrier, niacinamide allows for better absorption of UV filters in your sunscreen. It also helps neutralize some of the skin damage that gets through even the most thorough SPF coverage.


Overall, using niacinamide in the morning protects your skin, controls oiliness, smooths and brightens your complexion, and lets you start the day with clean, balanced, fortified skin.


Salicylic Acid at Night


Because salicylic acid works by exfoliating the top layers of skin, it needs time for absorption and effectiveness. Applying at night also reduces the risk of UV-related damage that can occur when an acid compromises skin barrier function during the day.


Some Key Benefits of Using Salicylic Acid Before Bed:


– Deep cleans and unclogs pores 

– Speeds up cell turnover for improved texture

– Reduces breakouts and blackheads

– Anti-inflammatory effects help redness and swelling go down overnight

– Strengthens skin while you sleep for clearer, calmer skin in the morning


Give your skin the downtime it needs at the end of the day to make the most of salicylic acid. The lack of UV exposure paired with increased blood flow to the skin enhances absorption and overnight cell repair.


How to Layer for Maximum Efficacy

When combining salicylic acid and niacinamide in the same routine, timing is key. While they can be combined, your skin will reap the most benefits from niacinamide in the AM and salicylic acid in the PM.


To Incorporate Both Ingredients:


– AM: Cleanse, tone (optional), apply niacinamide, follow with SPF and moisturizer

– PM: Cleanse, tone, apply salicylic acid, follow with moisturizer or night treatment 


Salicylic acid works best at a pH below 3.5 to penetrate pores, making it incompatible for layering with niacinamide. Niacinamide has much higher efficacy at a pH above 6.5. Using salicylic acid at night and niacinamide in the morning maximizes the performance of each.


Some Final Tips


When starting salicylic acid and niacinamide, introduce them one at a time rather than together to ensure your skin tolerates them well. Observe your skin over 2-4 weeks before adding the other ingredient. Start with twice a week of application, then build up gradually from there.


While these ingredients play nicely together for most skin types, stop using one or both if you experience irritation, excess dryness, or flaking. Niacinamide and salicylic acid can both potentially cause purging of congestion below the skin, which may worsen breakouts temporarily before improving them.


Follow the application with a good moisturizer and consider mixing a few drops of salicylic acid into your moisturizer instead of applying it to bare skin to combat dryness and irritation. This enables you to get the same acne and clog clearing benefits of salicylic acid with a buffer to protect your acid mantle.


When used properly at the right times, niacinamide and salicylic acid are a dream team for those struggling with oiliness, acne, enlarged pores, and uneven skin tone. By understanding when to apply each ingredient and how to combine them safely, you can create a skincare routine that keeps clogged pores, breakouts, and inflammation at bay while revealing a healthy, radiant complexion.


Written By

Beauty Editorial Team




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